The 16 US and Canadian missionaries of the religious organisation Christian Aid Ministries kidnapped earlier this month on Haiti are alive despite remaining in the captivity, a police source confirmed to the Nouvelliste newspaper after their abductors provided proof of life for them.
According to the article, Haiti’s Central Directorate of the Judicial Police’s anti-kidnapping and counter-kidnapping cell is leading the negotiations for the release of all the kidnapped foreigners with assistance of several FBI agents, but no specific date for their release has been determined yet.
Since the kidnapping of the American and the Canadian nationals, the Haitian government has issued no comments on the matter.
The kidnapped missionaries, that include women and children, were abducted not far from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince while en route to an orphanage. According to reports, they kidnappers are presumably members of the notorious local 400 Mawozo gang known for extorting and kidnapping people for ransoms.
The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, Wilson Joseph, alias Lanmò san jou, threatened last week to kill the hostages if he did not get the $17 million ransom he demanded for their release.
Commenting on Joseph’s threat to kill the hostages, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed that Biden administration is “relentlessly focused” on the kidnappings and in constant communication with the Haitian government, and that the State Department and the FBI officials are on the ground in Haiti.
The US officials are also working closely with the Haitian National Police to help build their capacity to deal with gangs in the wake of the National Police’s Chief Leon Charles resignation after he was accused by Joseph for the murder of five members of 400 Mawozo gang and due to his alleged inability to guarantee the PM’s presence in a patriotic ceremony marred by gunfire from local gangs.